One of my favorite ways to elevate a meal from good to great is by serving it with freshly baked bread. Focaccia is one of my favorite breads to make for several reasons. It is very low maintenance, it's open to many adaptations and variations, and most of all, it is absolutely delicious. I love the slightly crunchy top, studded with herbs and spices, which gives way to the soft and tender bread underneath.
I have made focaccia several times, and everytime I make it I do at least 2 different toppings. My favorites are rosemary and lavender-lemon, which are the toppings I used this time. I really can't pick a favorite, even after stuffing myself silly with both variations.
I served this with the pasta with lemon, garlic, and olive oil, and it was a perfect complement. As I mentioned before, it is a pretty low-maintenance recipe - just mix, knead, rise, shape, bake. The dough is actually mixed by hand, and while I really love my stand mixer, sometimes there is something so gratifying about kneading my dough by hand. It's a great time to zone out and forget the stresses of the day. Just knead and then go enjoy a glass of wine as it rises.
One Year Ago: Roasted Mushroom and Chorizo Salad
adapted from Williams-Sonoma
- 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) instant yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs olive oil
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp dried lavendar
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- kosher salt
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Oil a 15x10x1 inch baking pan, and punch down the dough. Transfer to the pan and press down with your hands to flatten the dough and cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with a clean, lint-free kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise again until puffy, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Using your fingertips, press dimples in the dough about 1-inch apart and 1-inch deep. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle half with rosemary, and the other half with the lavender and lemon zest. Sprinkle the top generously with kosher salt.
Bake 15-25 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown. Slide the focaccia onto a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve.